Outreach for World Hope believes that although it is necessary to save lives imminently at risk, it is equally valuable to solve the underlying causes of starvation and poverty. Therefore, OWH programs include sustainable pathways out of poverty for the population they serve. Through agricultural research conducted by leading agronomy experts working in partnership with local growers, OWH has identified several drought tolerant food sources that will increase food security in the region. An agriculture team led by Dr. Douglas Maxwell of the University of Wisconsin Department of Plant Pathology and Dr. Luis Mejia of San Carlos University, Guatemala, Department of Agronomy introduced several improved seed varieties of beans, maize, and cowpeas which were grown on experimental plots to determine their drought and altitude tolerance. Growers were very impressed with the yield of one cowpea variety which was obtained from the research program of the University of California-Riverside, and has had success in similar conditions in Africa. Additionally, an improved black bean hybrid, Arifi, produced 10-15% more yield than the traditional black bean.
Another successful project was the introduction of virus-resistant tomatoes into the growing system for local growers. Tomatoes are a high input, and high risk crop. Two virus-resistant hybrids, Llanero and Romelia, recently developed in Guatemala by Mejía and Maxwell, were grown along with a few plants of a virus-susceptible hybrid, Silverado. OWH hired an agricultural consultant to monitor the progress of these crops and to provide advice to growers unfamiliar with tomato plants. As a result, one grower harvested over 1,500 boxes of tomatoes in an area that normally would have produced 200 boxes of the susceptible hybrid. This project demonstrated that with technical assistance, virus-resistance tomatoes can provide a cash crop for growers in the region.
The Net Program
Agricultural projects at the family level have provided a pathway to improved nutrition and independence. The Nutritional Enhancement Triad (NET Program) is made up of three components which, when provided together in sufficient quantity, can achieve self sustainability.
Fruit tress of the varieties orange, lime, mango and avocado have proven to be particularly hearty and are thriving despite drought conditions. OWH began providing fruit trees to sponsored families in 2008 and they are now providing valuable vitamin and calorie rich fruit for the recipient families.
Bucket Kit Drip irrigation gardens enable families with very little land to grow vegetable gardens year around. The equipment consists of a five gallon bucket, four hoses twenty five feet each in length, and a few pieces of connecting hardware. The premise is that the family builds a tripod or platform out of sticks, metal or other materials in order to suspend the bucket a few feet off the ground. They then fill the bucket once per day with any kind of water they can find no matter how clean. The water slowly passes into the attached four hoses and leaks from slits spaced at various intervals thereby watering the seeds that have been planted along the hoses. Seeds planted in barren ground become lush, food producing gardens within weeks.
The need for calcium and protein in the diets of the families led to research regarding the possibility of providing chickens as the third component of the NET Program. Chicks at 12 weeks of age, which eventually become egg laying hens, can be provided with little cost to the ministry as the families fashion their own hen houses out of whatever materials they can find. The hens are provided by OWH as are the immunizations and preventative antibiotics needed to keep them healthy.
Each of these three agriculture projects are feasible at the family level and each is self sustaining when given in sufficient quantity so as to provide enough food for the family, and a small surplus which can be sold to purchase additional seeds, fertilizer, hen feed etc… Families receiving the NET Program enjoy a well balanced diet, a sense of self esteem, and fighting chance at independence. The total cost of providing the NET program for a family is $120, making it a tangible and rewarding way that supporters can make an impact.